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Punishment Park (1971)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  1980 (West Germany)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 4,297 users  
Reviews: 46 user | 62 critic

"Punishment Park" is a pseudo-documentary purporting to be a film crews's news coverage of the team of soldiers escorting a group of hippies, draft dodgers, and anti-establishment types ... See full summary »

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Title: Punishment Park (1971)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Patrick Boland ...
First Tribunal Defendant
Kent Foreman ...
Defendant in the tribunal
...
Jay Kaufman, Tribunal Defendant
Luke Johnson ...
Defendant in the tribunal
Katherine Quittner ...
Nancy Smith
...
James Arthur Kohler, Tribunal Defendant
Stan Armsted ...
Charles Robbins
Mary Ellen Kleinhall ...
Allison Mitchner
Mark Keats ...
William C. Hoeger, Tribunal Chairman
Gladys Golden ...
Mary Jurgens, Tribunal Member
Sanford Golden ...
Sen. Harris
George Gregory ...
Mr. Keagan
Norman Sinclair ...
Alfred J. Sully - Tribunal Member
Sigmund Rich ...
Prof. Hazlett
Paul Rosenstein ...
Paul Reynolds - Tribunal Member
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Storyline

"Punishment Park" is a pseudo-documentary purporting to be a film crews's news coverage of the team of soldiers escorting a group of hippies, draft dodgers, and anti-establishment types across the desert in a type of capture the flag game. The soldiers vow not to interfere with the rebels' progress and merely shepherd them along to their destination. At that point, having obtained their goal, they will be released. The film crew's coverage is meant to insure that the military's intentions are honorable. As the representatives of the 60's counter-culture get nearer to passing this arbitrary test, the soldiers become increasingly hostile, attempting to force the hippies out of their pacifist behavior. A lot of this film appears improvised and in several scenes real tempers seem to flare as some of the "acting" got overaggressive. This is a interesting exercise in situational ethics. The cinéma vérité style, hand-held camera, and ambiguous demands of the director - would the actors be ... Written by Dick Rockwell <dr1orok@atlas.moa.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

1980 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Büntető park  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Whole movie was filmed using Eclair 16 mm camera. Theather cut and the version for released DVD is been blown up to 35 mm film. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the film, when the defendants of group 638 are listening their sentences and again when they are being asked if the prefer the Punishment Park instead of their original sentences, Allison Mitchner is being referred by the president/judge as Mary Ellen Mitchner. At the start of the film she is being referred as Allison Mitchner. The name of the actress that plays the role of Allison Mitchner is Mary Ellen Kleinhall. See more »

Quotes

James Daly, Defense Attorney: Ladies and Gentlemen of the tribunal, I would like to read you something: "The streets of our country are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. Russia is threatening us with her might and the republic is in danger. Yes, danger from within and without. We need law and order or our nation cannot survive". We might all be forgiven for supposing those to be the words of our President. But they are not. Those words...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits at all. The title doesn't appear until halfway through the closing credits. See more »

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User Reviews

I will be shot ...
19 August 2001 | by (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

I will certainly be shot for comparing this with A Clockwork Orange, but so be it. Both from '71, both banned from television (12-June-2001, 15 votes: isn't it wonderful?), both science fiction and both concerned with an authoritative system that is growing out of (moral) proportions, both scary as hell. A major difference is that Punishment Park is intentionally not aesthetically fine-tuned and that the corrective groups have probably never committed any crime at all, while Alex is a recidivist delinquent. They do, as in Clockwork, spout supposed philosophical statements throughout the film. It is an ultra left-wing propagandistic attack on a certain ultra-reactionary system filled with caricatures (absurd loyalty, juvenile soldiers and rednecks) and the Viet Nam war. The dialogues and monologues are eloquent, but I found them sorely myopic and exaggerated.

quote: 'Punishment Park. Described by the US senate subcommittee on law and order as: a necessary training for the law officers and National Garde of the country in the control of those elements who seek the violent overthrow of US government and the means of providing a punitive deterrent aforementioned subversive elements.'

The supposed delinquents can choose between their (severe) penal sentence or three days in Punishment Park, where officers in training may hunt them. We see the interrogations of a new group alternated with footage of a preceding group that is outside in the park fighting for their dehydrated life and to get to the American flag for chauvinistic 'salvation'. This dystopic penal system is the result of the politics of polarization, according to a condemned one. The hand-held cinematography and the minimalist industrial sound track with constant shooting and agony in the background create a sense of realism, AND it's frightening to see how far fantasy can go in a dated film: it's almost post-apocalyptic. What's even scarier, there are parts of the world that apply even more disreputable methods ... today

9/10 (not for the political ideas of course)


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